Being a biological father doesn’t necessarily make you a legal father. Biology, in fact, isn’t even necessary to gain legal fatherhood. When a baby is born, the mother is immediately given maternity, or legal motherhood. If she is carrying another man’s baby, her husband can immediately gain paternity (legal fatherhood) after the birth.
A biological father must claim their paternity, either by signing the birth certificate or filing paperwork later.
You may have a great relationship with your child’s mother, and perhaps you even share responsibilities as co-parents. However, if you do not retain your legal fatherhood, you could lose out on access to your child in the future.
Here are some ways that establishing paternity can protect fathers.
Paternity Secures Your Right to Custody or Visitation
Typically, states want to maintain the relationship between parents and their children. Once you establish paternity, you will always be the child’s legal father.
This gives you the right to see your children or even gain joint custody. You must work out a parenting plan with the mother. After you do, those rights stay in place. Your scheduled custody and visitation cannot be blocked by the mother. If she tries, she can face serious legal penalties.
Paternity Gives You the Right to Participate in Child Support
Child support has an unfair reputation. Viewed correctly, it is not a burden. It is, rather, a privilege. Child support allows you to help care for your kids, keeping them clothed and fed, even at a distance. The mother cannot block these payments, and she cannot spend this money on herself.
The payments themselves should be reasonable. They are based on the incomes of both parents, and they typically amount to what you would spend on the kids if you were living with them full-time.
Paternity Allows You to Share Your Benefits
You have a right to share many benefits with your children. Most notably, you can put them on your health insurance plan. They may also receive some military benefits, depending on your plan and position in the organization. Furthermore, your children are automatic beneficiaries of your estate when you pass, even if you don’t have a will.
Claiming your children as dependents may give you some tax breaks as well. You may have to coordinate this with the mother, but if the circumstances are right, it can be done.
Paternity Gives You Access to Important Records
As a legal parent, you have a right to see sensitive information relevant to your children. For instance, you can access their medical records, helping you keep track of their healthcare needs. You can also keep up with their schooling, as you will have legal access to their educational records. You may even have access to teachers, depending on your custody agreement.
The entire paternity process can be complicated, so make sure to find good legal help. This will go a long way to making sure your requests go through, securing your legal parenthood for life.
For help with paternity issues in Florida, trust our firm to work hard for you. You can schedule a free consultation by calling (904) 701-0591 or filling out our online contact form.